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Child custody and residential responsibility

Whether they are going through a divorce or were never married, many North Dakota parents don't know where to begin with the process of establishing child custody. Perhaps the best place to begin is with the term itself.

Since 2009, North Dakota courts have used the term "residential responsibility" for the legal concept other states call child custody, and the term "parenting time" for the concept known elsewhere as visitation.

Essentially, the parent who lives with the child has residential responsibility. In many cases the parents divide residential responsibility between them. Typically, these parents negotiate a parenting plan to divide residential responsibility and then have it approved by the court.

In cases where the child lives with one parent all the time, the other parent almost always has a right to parenting time and will have some say in making decisions about the child's education and other important issues. It's important to note that the existence of a domestic violence protection order or disorderly conduct restraining order against one of the parents can greatly interfere with the ability to establish residential responsibility or parenting time rights.

In all cases related to the raising of children, North Dakota courts base their decisions upon their interpretation of the best interest of the child. Likewise, parents must put the best interests of their children above all other considerations in disputes over residential responsibility and parenting time.

That said, parents have rights and responsibilities. It's important for parents to get help from a skilled family law attorney to protect their rights and their children.

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Commandments of Family Law

  1. The only truth your children need to know is that you both love them unconditionally, and that this isn't their fault.
  2. Take the high road — everyone wins when you do what's best for your kids.
  3. Negotiate but don't capitulate — if you are being pushed toward something detrimental for your children, stand your ground.
  4. You can only control yourself and how you respond. Don't engage.
  5. Do set up rules and responsibilities. Kids feel better when routine is continued.
  6. You are still their parent — don't be afraid to be one.
  7. Disneyland is in California, not in your home. Don't set up unreasonable expectations.
  8. It is not their job to take care of you. Repeat that to them. Often.
  9. Yelling is for sports — not court. Good lawyers strongly advocate without being disrespectful to opposing parties.
  10. Fair is a place you go to get cheese curds. Aside from that, nothing in life is fair.

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